Estate of Denial news clips (11/26/15 – 12/5/15)

Nevada’s Top Judge Wants Permanent Oversight of Guardianship System

Las Vegas Review-Journal

November 23, 2015

Nevada’s top justice wants to form a permanent Supreme Court committee that would monitor and analyze the state’s troubled guardianship system.

Chief Justice James Hardesty made the recommendation during Monday’s meeting of the state’s commission analyzing the administration of guardianships.


Former Raspberries singer Eric Carmen accuses brother of mismanaging money (OH)

November 24, 2015

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Eric Carmen, the former frontman for the 1970s rock band the Raspberries, has accused his brother of mismanaging the singer’s money, leaving his trust fund in a “financial mess.”

In a complaint filed in Cuyahoga County Probate Court, the Cleveland-born artist asks a magistrate to order Fred Carmen, a Beachwood-based attorney and former mayor of Mayfield Village, to pay back more than $25,000 and to remove his brother from his position as trustee of the fund.


Will Tom Benson, estranged daughter come face to face in mediation? (TX/LA)

The Times-Picayune

November 24, 2015

Will Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson face his estranged daughter Renee Benson across a table and hash out their strife in San Antonio?

The question is the latest dispute in the Benson family feud.


Beverly man accused of killing his wife told authorities he ‘lost it’ (MA)

Boston Herald

November 24, 2015

Axel Scherer, 45, was brought cuffed into Salem District Court as funeral services were getting underway in neighboring Swampscott for Edith “Edie” Black-Scherer.

No family showed up for Scherer’s arraignment, but his attorney, Michael Phelan, confirmed Scherer was this morning served a no-trespass order by his employer, Cadence Design Systems of Chelmsford.


“I truly do hate him.” Sole heir speaks out on arrest of attorney (LA)

November 25, 2015

BOSSIER CITY, La – An attorney and his wife are accused of ripping off a dying man and getting him to write his son out of his will.  Now both sides are speaking out on what began as a nasty child custody battle that got even nastier.

While Andrew Davisson was in the hospital terminally ill last year at the age of 44, Bossier Sheriffs investigators say his attorney and the attorney’s wife were ripping him off, and ripping off his son, who was the sole heir to his estate.  For one thing, Michael and Sharon Cox are accused of emptying Davisson’s bank account nearly $70,000 dollars  above and beyond his bills.


Busch Heirs Say Zoo Offers Best Future For Grant’s Farm (MO)

Webster-Kirkwood Times

November 26, 2015

The fate of Grant’s Farm may not be decided for quite some time.

The Saint Louis Zoo was approached in early 2014 by four of the six heirs of beer baron August A. “Gussie” Bush Jr. about purchasing the popular south St. Louis County animal park for about $30 million from the Busch Family Real Estate Trust. Much of that is expected to be funded by a donation from Anheuser-Busch InBev – if the transaction moves forward.


APNewsBreak: Casey Kasem’s Widow Sued for Wrongful Death

November 26, 2015

Three of the radio personality Casey Kasem’s children and his brother sued his widow on Wednesday, claiming her actions led to his death in 2014.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses Jean Kasem of elder abuse and inflicting emotional distress on Kasem’s children from a previous marriage by restricting access to their father before his death.


New do-it-yourself form for property transfer saves probate costs (TX)

Austin American-Statesman

November 27, 2015

A do-it-yourself form, newly created by the Legislature, will allow property owners to transfer land and buildings to their heirs without going through probate court — saving legal fees that frequently top several thousand dollars.

Known as a “transfer on death deed,” the document allows property owners to bypass the often expensive and lengthy probate process that would otherwise be required to transfer ownership, even for those with valid wills, said Trish McAllister, executive director of the Texas Access to Justice Commission.


Efforts continue to get remaining funds in Scribner (CA/NE)

The Norfolk Daily News

November 27, 2015

SCRIBNER — A hearing date has been set in a California probate court to hear matters on the City of Scribner’s request to receive the rest of a native son’s trust funds.

Scribner City Attorney Jim McNally told the city council earlier this week that a hearing will take place Jan. 21, during which the probate judge will hear motions in the case. A petition that re-creates the trust based on what Ken Furstenau would have wanted to do with excess funds was filed with the probate court last month.


Arrest Warrant Awaits Retired Lawyer Who Allegedly Took Disabled Man’s Money (CT)

Hartford Courant

November 28, 2015

Michael Schless, a 78-year-old former lawyer from Newington who retired to Florida years ago, may make a return trip in a few weeks to his old hometown — but his purpose won’t be to spend the holidays with friends and family, as might be expected.

Instead, an arrest warrant awaits him in Connecticut.

Schless, now of Boynton Beach, Fla., was the subject of a Government Watch column in August 2013 reporting allegations that, in his role as a probate court-appointed conservator, he improperly handled a disabled man’s finances — and tried to cover it up by filing false accounting statements as the man’s finances dwindled by tens of thousands of dollars over several years.


New York attorney refuses to forward a mother’s last will and testament

November 28, 2015

After someone dies, the executor of the deceased’s estate commonly files the last will and testament in probate court. However, while it’s customary, this isn’t the practice of every attorney. A New York attorney is now being sued by an Atlanta woman who claims she’s unable to access her mother’s last will and testament because the attorney won’t release it or file it in probate court.

According to, “If the last will has been filed in probate court, getting a copy is as simple as going to the courthouse and requesting a copy or calling and mailing a self-addressed stamped envelope along with necessary payment for the will.”

It hasn’t been so easy for the Atlanta woman, who’s asked to remain nameless. The plaintiff, who cared for her mother until her death, has been traveling between Atlanta to New York battling with attorney Ellen M. Boyle of Yonkers, New Yonkers and squatters who have now taken over her mother’s New York home.


Restitution for wards may be long fight (OH)

The Columbus Dispatch

November 29, 2015

When news of Paul Kormanik’s death reached Phil Metoyer, there was no watershed moment.

No feeling of relief.

No justice.

On many nights, Metoyer had thought about what he’d say to Kormanik, a lawyer who had been appointed as guardian to Metoyer’s father, Albert.


Government defends plans to combine public trustee and public guardian (AUS)

The Canberra Times

November 29, 2015

The ACT government has defended its planned merger of the public guardians and public trustee, rejecting concerns it will result in crucial life decisions being made on the basis of cost.

Attorney-general Simon Corbell said the new merged agency would be required to give equal consideration to managing people’s personal lives and their finances.


New Fairfield WWII vet fights nursing home bill (CT)

Danbury News Times

November 30, 2015

NEW FAIRFIELD — A Danbury nursing home that is suing a 97-year-old combat veteran for $100,000 he incurred while staying there against his will has offered to settle the bill for a mere $10,000.

But for the spirited World War II veteran, who’s been treated as a hero by a growing circle of well-wishers after his case was mishandled by a court-appointed conservator, the nursing home’s concession doesn’t go far enough.


17-Year-Old Claiming She is Kirk Kerkorian’s Daughter Contests Will

November 30, 2015

An attorney serving as the court-appointed advocate for a 17-year-old girl wants a judge to revoke the July admission of the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian’s will to probate, arguing that it wrongfully excludes his client.

Kira Kerkorian claims she is the biological daughter of the late casino tycoon. Lawyer Michael Augustine serves as Kira Kerkorian’s guardian ad litem, a role to which he was appointed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maria Stratton on Sept. 10 in order to protect the teen’s interests.


Lawyers who should know them rate local judges (TX)

Houston Chronicle

November 30, 2015

Houston-area residents can’t pick the courts in which they might appear to argue a traffic ticket, challenge a foreclosure or dispute child custody in a divorce, but the Houston Bar Association offers some insight about the presiding judges.

The association, which has conducted a judicial evaluation poll since the early 1970s, recently released its latest survey that includes lawyers’ assessments of dozens of state and local appellate judges, federal judges, civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate judges, justices of the peace and municipal judges.


Merry Christmas! Rights to “Santa Claus’ Is Comin’ to Town” Return to Songwriters

The National Law Review

November 30, 2015

Addressing issues of copyright ownership and the effectiveness of copyright termination notices, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s summary judgment decision, terminating effective next year, the rights of the current copyright holder to the classic Christmas song, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” Tracing the history of rights to the song through decades that also included significant changes in copyright law, the Court held that the heirs of one of the songwriters, J. Fred Coots (the Coots Heirs), will own the rights to the song starting December 2016. Baldwin v. EMI Feist Catalog, Inc., Case No. 14-182-cv (2nd Cir., Oct. 8, 2015) (Livingston, J.).

In reaching its decision, the 2nd Circuit confronted two issues: identifying the agreement that was the source of EMI’s current rights in the song, and whether any of the termination notices served by the Coots Heirs terminated those rights.


Mental health examination of Viacom billionaire Sumner Redstone is rejected by judge despite ex-girlfriend claiming he was an ‘incompetent living ghost

Daily Mail

November 30, 2015

A California court on Monday rejected a request from the former girlfriend of Sumner Redstone for the 92-year-old chairman of Viacom Inc to undergo an immediate medical evaluation.

Former girlfriend Manuela Herzer filed a lawsuit last week seeking to have Redstone declared mentally incompetent and petitioned to have him examined to determine if he can still make decisions for himself. 


The Unfortunate Story of the Years-Long Battle Over Rosa Parks’ Belongings Finally Resolved (Film Material?)

Indie Wire (blog)

December 1, 2015

For filmmakers (writers, directors, producers, etc), there are many films to be made of this specific story we’ve seen play out repeatedly, year after year: deceased prominent public personality whose belongings (and in some cases, whose corpse) are at the center of a years-long legal fight between said person’s heirs (and in some cases heirs and friends of the person). And maybe said belongings include memorabilia of historical significance that the general public today would greatly benefit from, even if only educationally.

It’s a premise that’s we’ve seen unfold in real life a number of times, sadly – more than I’d like to count. And I was reminded of it again today, as I was reading remembrances of Rosa Parks’ December 1, 1955 arrestin Montgomery for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Today marks the 60th anniversary of that incident.


Guardian May Not Deduct Fee From Medicaid Recipient’s Income (FL)

Elder Law Answers

December 1, 2015

A Florida appeals court rules that the guardian of a Medicaid recipient may not deduct a guardianship fee from the recipient’s income because the fee is not medically necessary. Lutheran Services Florida, Inc. v. Department of Children and Families (Fl. Ct. App., 2nd Dist., No. 2D13-5840, Nov. 25, 2015).

Lutheran Services Florida (LSF) is the court-appointed guardian of nursing home resident Larry Peron. LSF’s duties include reviewing Mr. Peron’s medical treatment and giving consent for medical procedures. When Mr. Peron qualified for Medicaid, he paid the majority of his income to the nursing home as the patient responsibility amount.


Surgeon Dies in Bankruptcy Leaving Probate Quagmire (TX)

Bloomberg BNA

December 2, 2015

Nov. 30 — The wife of a famous surgeon was left with a fraction of the family probate allowance she would have been entitled to under Texas law after her husband fled to Florida, filed for bankruptcy, and subsequently died under bizarre circumstances.

In a case that was complicated by the fact that the debtor left behind several dubious wills, Judge W. Eugene Davis agreed with the bankruptcy court that the debtor’s wife was only entitled to the smaller family allowance because the debtor had been domiciled in Florida at his death.


County probate judge to face civil suit (NH)

December 2, 2015

ALFRED — A New Hampshire woman has initiated a class action civil complaint against York County Judge of Probate Robert M.A. Nadeau, alleging scheduling changes he made in April resulted in the loss of her guardianship of her 3-year-old granddaughter.

Renee LeGrand of Effingham, New Hampshire claims the scheduling change initiated by Nadeau on April 15 resulted in the need for extensions of her temporary guardianship of her granddaughter while awaiting a court date that has so far not materialized. Ultimately, according to the complaint, an extension request filed on Aug. 28, ahead of the pending expiration of a temporary guardianship order Aug. 31, was denied by Nadeau on Sept. 11. On Sept. 21, Nadeau appointed Aroostook County Probate Judge James Dunleavy to hear the case, at the expense of York County. According to the suit, no scheduling has been accomplished.


Carmen brothers to square off in court (OH)

December 2, 2015

No trial date has been set in a case pitting pop singer Eric Carmen against his brother, Fred N. Carmen, who said he has been Eric’s manager for more than 20 years.

Eric Carmen is a founder of the Raspberries, a power-pop group of the 1970s known for hits such as “Go All the Way” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).” He also notched a strong career as a solo artist; among his best-known tunes is “All By Myself,” a 1975 power ballad that sold more than a million copies in its first year of release.


Woman sues York County probate judge over case delay (NH)

Portland Press Herald

December 3, 2015

The York County probate judge accused of creating a backlog of cases in retaliation for not receiving a pay raise is being sued by a New Hampshire woman who blames him for losing custody of her granddaughter.

Renee LeGrand of Effingham, New Hampshire, filed the civil action against York County Judge of Probate Robert Nadeau on Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred. LeGrand wants the court to undo changes Nadeau made to his hearing schedule this summer, saying the changes resulted in delays that caused her to lose temporary guardianship of her granddaughter. York County, which pays Nadeau’s salary, is named in the suit as a party of interest.


Records Show Kyle Navin Wasn’t Cut From Parents’ Wills (CT)

Hartford Courant

December 3, 2015

Arrest warrant affidavits indicate that Jeanette Navin told a friend that the relationship between she and her husband, Jeffrey, and their son Kyle was so “tempestuous” the couple planned to cut the son out of their wills.

But records just filed in probate court indicate Kyle Navin, who has been charged with murdering his parents, is still an heir to their seven-figure estate.


Ex-wife of billionaire Kerkorian files claim; seeks $1.3M in unpaid child support

December 3, 2015

A former professional tennis player who was briefly married to the late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian filed a creditor’s claim against his estate seeking $1.3 million in unpaid child support.

Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, 50, filed the claim Nov. 23 in Los Angeles Superior Court. She is the mother of 17-year-old Kira Kerkorian and both she and her daughter claim the teen is the biological daughter of the casino tycoon.


Longtime Conn. Lawyer Faces Arrest After Alleged Thefts From Disabled Client

Connecticut Law Tribune

December 3, 2015

For years, Michael Schless practiced law in Newington without any hint of wrongdoing. He’s now 78, retired and living in Boynton Beach, Florida. And there is a warrant pending for his arrest.

The issuance of the warrant by Newington police is the latest chapter in a lengthy investigation into whether Schless took thousands of dollars from a client with cerebral palsy. Schless had served as conservator for John Fritz of Wethersfield for about 24 years. Fritz’s legal counsel asserts that as much as $100,000 was taken, though an attorney representing Schless said his client never took any money and that he is the victim of a bookkeeping problem.